Responsibility to Vote

In 2008, a staggering 56.8 percent of the voting population in the United States cast their ballots, the highest voter turnout since 1968. Minorities, women, college students and first-time voters won the election for Barack Obama. Why is it, then, that President Obama is struggling to ignite enthusiasm in those same groups for the upcoming November elections? The results of the elections will help determine the course of our country for the remainder of this president’s term. It seems clear that the fervor and sense of urgency so evident in 2008 are both absent from the upcoming 2010 elections. Why is such an ardor absent in this current political atmosphere? The answer could be dissatisfaction with the Obama administration. I regularly talk to friends at Andover who were originally Obama supporters butt have begun to believe that the White House is not delivering many of the promises it made two years ago and are frustrated that the President refuses to take stances on important issues. I also encounter many who have never agreed with President Obama’s policies at all and would rather wait until 2012 to handily vote him out of office. No matter what your take on the Obama presidency, you have to acknowledge the wave of political activism that swept the country leading up to the 2008 elections. Though exasperation with the Bush administration may have fueled the fire, I feel that the ingenious Obama campaign deserves some credit; its appeal to voters’ emotions made it one of the most successful political campaigns in recent history. No doubt, the November elections lack the glamour of the presidential elections: the brilliant red skirt-suits worn by Sarah Palin, the trademark Obama “Change” T-shirts and the unwavering belief that voting the Republicans out of the White House would change things for Americans. Midterm elections lack the inherent appeal of a prospect of a new president. A Congress in the hands of a different party, however important, does not have the same thrill. When we put aside the fact that the 2008 election provided a good adrenaline rush, as well as undeniably great material for late night comedy shows, and think about the elections on a more practical level, the importance becomes evident. This is a chance for Americans to make a change to the change they initially voted for, to wield the power of the vote and elect lawmakers who are going to uphold their values. I am disheartened to see that so few people are actually interested in the outcome of these elections and what they will mean for our government. To anyone who is registered, please vote. To those who will use the “I don’t have time” or “I don’t care” argument, that’s not the point. The fact of the matter is that one way or another, these elections are going to affect all of us. It isn’t about party politics. It isn’t about backing one candidate over the other for personal reasons or knowing an impressive number of facts so that you can sound smarter in class. It’s about caring about the future of our country. The fact is that we shouldn’t just care about those big elections every four years; we should care about all the stuff in between too. Hey, maybe I’m a little nostalgic. Maybe I just miss good ol’ 2008: when the just-released Slumdog Millionaire won an Oscar for its modern-day Cinderella story told from the Indian slums, when Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies” seemed to be blaring from every speaker and when Obama and his campaign made American history, those were the good days. Maybe I just miss the craze of the presidential elections, turning the TV on to find political commentators spewing a barrage of partisan nonsense, the “Obama Girl” video on YouTube, the hilarious comedy provided by Tina Fey and the hype leading up to Election Day. That was fun, but, if we look past the entertainment value, there was a reason we cared then, and there’s a reason we should care now. Tia Baheri is a two-year Upper from Plano, TX.